Romans 8:20-21 “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in the hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
I have personally witnessed the aftermath of killer tornadoes in Oklahoma and Missouri. Months later debris was still scattered around. Buildings were nothing more than piles of rubble, or simply missing altogether. Pictures of the destruction in the Florida panhandle after Hurricane Michael struck look like ground zero from some atomic blast.
God’s creation doesn’t want to do this. It wasn’t supposed to work this way. It is frustrated when it doesn’t serve God’s people the way God originally intended. The wild, untamed forces of nature are not “free.” They have been subjected by God to work in a negative way because of our sin. Remember God’s word’s to Adam after the fall? “Cursed is the ground for your sake.”
God didn’t do this because he didn’t love us or his creation. He did it because he couldn’t let this world remain a paradise for his sinful people–a paradise that would stand in the way of our return to him. That means God’s love is there, even in the decay and destruction and frustration around us.
We may not know everything God has planned for us, and we may not see all the good he is working for us now. But one thing we do know about our heavenly future: A glorious freedom is waiting: “…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
Freedom is something for which Americans have long believed it is worth suffering. Remember the last line of the Declaration of Independence? “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Some of those signers like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson went on to become presidents. But some of them ended up losing their fortunes. William Hooper is an example. Others, such as Thomas Lynch and Richard Stockton, even gave their lives for freedom.
Of course, with creation we are hoping for an entirely different freedom. God doesn’t set us free to indulge our personal desires. He sets us free from the desires that control our lives. When he finally returns and takes us to glory, we will at last be free from every trace of sin left in us. Together with that freedom from sin we will find freedom from all the frustration, death and decay sin brought along with it. That is the glorious freedom waiting for us children of God. That is the freedom God’s creation hopes to enjoy along with us.
We don’t suffer now to deserve freedom later. The one does not equal the other. Rather, we are on a journey. As long as we are traveling the straight and narrow way to heaven, as long as our time spent in this world is time spent in faith in Jesus, suffering is part of the landscape along the road. It doesn’t get us where we are going, but it is part of the country through which we are traveling.
Once we arrive at our heavenly goal, the suffering will all be left behind.